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LITERARY    LIFE                        233

(A)  but, yes!

(B)  ah, no!

(A)   ah, yes?

(B)  but, no?

(A)  but, yes!

(B)  ah, no!

Notice that the second interlocutor always tries to counter the
first, while the first always takes up the thread of the second
in its first unit (the "ahs" and "buts") but varies the second
unit. The exclamation and question marks merely serve to
indicate that there are two different kinds of "yeses" and "noes."
Notice that with the exception of the second unit of the first
couplet all the units are properly balanced in tone.

But we are more interested in the inner technique and spirit
of Chinese poetry than in its prosody. By what inner technique
did it enter that magic realm of beauty? How did it throw a
veil of charm and atmosphere over an ordinary landscape and,
with a few words, paint a striking picture of reality, sur-
charged with the poet's emotion? How did the poet select and
eliminate his material and how did he inform it with his own
spirit and make it glow with rhythmic vitality? In what way was
the technique of Chinese poetry and Chinese painting really
one? And why is it that Chinese poets are painters, and painters,
poets?

The striking thing about Chinese poetry is its plastic imagin-
ation and its kinship in technique with painting. This is
most evident in the handling of perspective. Here the analogy
between Chinese poetry and painting is almost complete. Let
us begin with perspective. Why is it that when we read the
lines of Li Po (701-762)

Above the man's face arise the hills;
Beside the horse's head emerge the clouds,

we are presented with a picture in bold outline of a man
travelling on horseback on a high mountain path? The words,
short and sharp and meaningless at first sight, will be found,
with a moment's use of the imagination, to give us a picture